For all intents and purposes, the NFL offseason is underway. Even though the Super Bowl for the 2022 season is less than two weeks in the rearview, oddsmakers have already established the outlook for the 2023 season—and the Detroit Lions have the 11th best odds at claiming the Lombardi Trophy next season.
In order to take that next step, plenty of football pundits have identified the Lions defense as an area of focus for Detroit this offseason. Nearly every mock draft churned out thus far has the Lions taking a defensive player with their No. 6 overall pick, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who disagrees with Detroit going in that direction.
That contingent includes former Detroit Lions head coach Marty Mornhinweg, currently a contributor for The 33rd Team.
As part of an ongoing series this offseason, various experts over at The 33rd Team are identifying three things each franchise needs to improve in order to contend for next year’s Super Bowl. According to Mornhinweg, Detroit’s list of areas to improve isn’t as extensive as other teams, suggesting the Lions have just one area to address this offseason.
“With the Detroit Lions, unlike other teams with several things to do to improve in 2023, there is only one thing they need to make a run at the Super Bowl. Why?” asks Mornhinweg. “Because they’ve set their foundation.
“They’ve set it strong, with brick and mortar,” continues the former Lions coach. “I’m talking about the hard work that the whole organization puts in, especially the coaches and players. That’s all set. The team leaders, the players, need to make sure last season’s mentality carries over to 2023.”
Considering Detroit boasted a top-5 unit on offense last season, and many from that group are slated to return in 2023—including the likes of a now healthy Jameson Williams—the Lions very clearly have a leg up on that side of the ball. For them to make a Super Bowl push next year, Mornhinweg needs to see Detroit add more impact players to the defensive side of the ball.
“They’ve already got some,” admits Mornhinweg. “And they’ve got a heck of a coaching staff, led by defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn. They play hard. They’re prepared. They put the hard work in. They just need some top-flight players.”
Mornhinweg makes mention of how well Detroit is set up for this year’s draft with five picks in the top 81 selections, and singles out defensive backs like Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr., Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon, and Alabama’s Brian Branch as potential fits for the Lions to improve their defense over the course of the next couple of seasons. But in the here and now, Mornhinweg fans the flames for the rumors surrounding Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, suggesting that adding the veteran cornerback’s presence would immediately improve Detroit’s secondary.
The winds of change are certainly continuing to swirl in Detroit, and it sounds like Mornhinweg is once again buying the wind.